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Women in the workforce

10 Jan 2017 / / Tips & Tutorial

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What is the percentage of men and women employees in your office? Is your office mostly dominated by male employees?


Although it is not a surprising news that men dominate the workforce more than women, Indonesia is actually doing better than other countries in Asia. According to World Bank data, as stated by the Jakarta Globe, 51 percent of women are employed in the workforce, compared with 78 percent of men, which compares favorably with the numbers of women in Malaysia and India’s workforces, at 44 percent to 77 percent and 29 percent to 81 percent respectively.


While the number of women entering the workforce has increased significantly over the past decades, female employees in Indonesia still encounter problems that affect their work performance and existence in the working world. Here are the reasons why:


1. Family burdens

Most women in Indonesia, especially the married working women, are always faced with the dilemma of being a full-time housewife and a stay at home mom or doing both things at the same time (working while being a housewife). Indonesian women always have such dilemma because the deep-rooted culture sees women as caretakers to nurture their family.

Even when female employees are pregnant and therefore entitled to take three months paid maternity leave, most of them are again faced with options to either go back to work after taking the maternity leave or quit their jobs to take care of their newborns.


2. Gender pay gap

Cultural norms play a big role in the strong gender segregation of industries and occupations, with women being concentrated in lower paying roles. Indonesia has a large gender wage gap with women being paid around 30 % less than a similarly qualified man.


According to www.wageindicator.org, the cultural assumption that men are the breadwinners, while women take care of the household, is still very strong in Indonesian society. As a result, when women are working, their position is assumed to be merely that of an ‘additional’ breadwinner. This causes a gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is the gap between the salary received by men and women.  The man’s wage is higher than woman's wage because he is expected to take care of his wife and children. While female workers, even when married, are also legally still considered single.


In Indonesia, according to the ILO, women represent approximately 38% of the work forced in the civil service (maid). More than a third of the women do domestic work, such as taking care of the household and nurturing. These jobs are paid relatively low and therefore overall women tend to earn less than men.


While the number of women entering the workforce keeps increasing, these problems, especially the cultural norms of women having to nurture their family, do not seem to erode. In order for Indonesia to be able to tackle this gender issue, companies should support gender equalities which shall include equal pay for men and women employees, equal roles and responsibilities, and equal chance to take up top positions.


Read Type of Colleagues and How to deal with them


Debby Lim